In March of 1946, toward the end of my basic training, I was assigned KP at Sheppard Field, Texas.
I was at the steam table to wash all the pots and pans and with me was a helper who was in his first week of basic. He asked what I was doing and what was the piece of metal I was cleaning, obviously to cover one of the big cooking pots.
I, being wise and all, replied that it was a piece of an airplane. I saw the puzzled look on his face, so I asked him if he had seen the aircraft on static display around the base. He had.
I continued that, since the airplanes are outdoors, they get dirty, and periodically they disassemble them, bring them to the kitchen, the only place with steam, and we clean them before sending them back to maintenance where they are repainted.
He then asked what he should do with this particu- lar piece of an airplane, and I told him to take it to the mess sergeant and ask him, which he did.
The sergeant failed to see the humor in it and told me to stop laughing, and gave me the worst chewing out I’ve ever had.
Whoever the airman was, I must apologize for any embarrassment I may have caused him.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.